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Meal Pattern Minute: Sodium Limits

July 23, 2023

The USDA revised the nutrition standards in the Child and Adult Care Food Program to reflect the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This includes increasing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; adjusting requirements for milk; and reducing sodium. The National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast program follow certain sodium restrictions. So, if you are a school or center that handles various Child Nutrition Programs or a school, center or family child care home only working within CACFP, you might be wondering is there a sodium limit in the CACFP?  

 Join us in this CACFP Meal Pattern Minute reel where Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, reveals the answer on whether CACFP has sodium limits. 

 Unlike the school meal programs, CACFP and SFSP do not have specific quantitative requirements for calories, saturated fat, and sodium. However, you should check with your state agency, sponsor, and nutrition policies to make sure there are additional regulations or policies about sodium.  

Even though there may not be a sodium limit in the CACFP, you might still be considering changing your menu to include lower sodium foods. Below are a few strategies to help you achieve this goal.  

  • Look for foods lower in sodium by reading the Nutrition Facts Label.
  • When preparing foods use herbs, spices, and citrus to enhance meals and add less salt. 
  • Drain and rinse canned vegetables and beans to reduce the sodium up to 40 percent! 
  • Limit serving processed meats to no more than one serving per week. 
  • If serving a food component with high sodium, pair with fresh fruits and vegetables.  
  • Print these resources to have as a CACFP provider and give to families so they learn how sodium can be reduced at the child care center, child care home or in the family home. 
  • Reducing Sodium in Children’s Diets
  • Be Salt Smart

Reducing sodium in child care centers and family child care homes is possible! A Head Start program in Marion County took the initiative to reduce sodium by using realistic strategies in developing healthier meals, such as switching to lower sodium sauces, salad dressings and soup bases. Read “Giving Kids a Head Start on Health: Sodium Reduction in Marion County” for more details about this project. 

Try one of these low-sodium recipes! 

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